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  • Writer's pictureDeb Smithers

Hiriketiya , Sri Lanka

Where the Jungle meets the ocean

After my arrival in Sri Lanka and embarking on a hair-raising 8-hour bus journey to the south of the island, I stopped to enjoy a few nights at Talalla. A special little oasis nestled on the ocean edge and if you are up for the journey down south, it is well worth visiting. This dreamy little village has everything the locals and visitors need and there are also a couple of small hipster cafes for any visitors who cannot live without their morning espresso.

As the sun rises and sets on Talalla, you can sit and enjoy watching the village fishermen as they gather on the beach to fish for food with one giant net, and it's captivating to sit and admire their strength and skill. The beach is divine with its white sand, sheltering palms, and tree swings. You can throw down your mat and take a tranquil morning yoga session to start your day in paradise.

I was there to visit a friend working at a nearby wellness retreat. I had promised to travel the next day to Udawalawe National Park to accompany 4 clients from the retreat on an Elephant Safari Tour before making my way to Horseshoe Bay in Hiriketiya. 'Where the jungle meets the ocean'. After days of traveling, I was ready for some time to settle and relax, hoping to be blessed with sun, surf, and plenty of spices!

Traveling from Talalla to Hiriketiya was an easy 30-minute drive, just hold out a little rupee and you will have a tuk-tuk in seconds, but be mindful that they will definitely try to overcharge you. Pay what you would accept as a decent price, always taking into consideration that driving is, for many their livelihood.

Head to Dickwella, which is the closest town, and

from there it is a 15-minute walk down to Hiri. Finding a room along the way is easy, asking around usually works well and you can be invited into some fabulous family homes at minimal cost. I always enjoy living with local families, it's where you really get an insight into their lives and make some special memories.

Alternatively, you can find more tourist accommodation on your various booking sites.

Hiri is slowly becoming one of Sri Lanka's most popular surf spots, yet it maintains to have that remote, untouched feel to it.

The beach caters for all levels of surfing with the westside for those still getting a feel for the board, and the eastside for those more experienced surfers. Imagine enjoying the view of the lush tropical jungle that lines the bay, while waiting for the next sets to roll in.

The beach has a couple of surf stalls, here you can hire surfboards and snorkeling

gear for $10 AUD. I rarely travel with my board, I hired one for the weeks that I was there, not exactly the Mal I would have liked to be riding, but with those incredible lines coming through the bay, you would be happy to get on anything just to get out there. The stall owners will tell you that for every amazing ride, you win a lion beer. You can imagine how some of these surf sessions must end.

In the evening you will always find somewhere with a little music, often on the beach after sunset. Hiriketiya is a peaceful village and most visitors are surf and ocean lovers, but it is definitely not a place for partygoers. When walking through the village at night you will be amazed at the dazzling glow bugs flying around lighting your path, it looks quite magical.

August till December/Jan is the time to go if you're in search of the best waves and generally, the weather in Hiriketiya is great but keep in mind that October to April is their rainy season.

In a beach hut on the water's edge, with your feet in the sand, you can watch the world go by while enjoying some incredible local cuisine.

Always be respectful to the locals and their culture.

The locals are so welcoming and always happy to join in on the laughs or to lend a helping hand. They are quiet and humble and it is their kindness that I remember the most. Hiriketiya is a very safe, happy village.

If you are hungry, they will feed you.

And if you are injured, they will tend to you.

The professionals dragged the poisonous caterpillar spikes out with oil and a very big knife.

Of course, there are plenty of other things to do around Hiriketyia than just surfing. Whilst there it is worth taking a visit to Dickwella, to experience the colorful markets and the serenity of Dickwella beach, Goyambokka, and Silent Beach.

Take a 2 km walk to the end of Dickwella town and you will come to Wewrukannala Viharaya Buddhist Temple. Here rests the biggest Buddhist statue in Sri Lanka.

Some sections of the Temple date back to the 18th Century. This ancient temple appears almost deserted with many injured street dogs now living on the grounds. The entire experience was a little trippy, especially when you come to what is called, The gates of hell. A tunnel with walls adorned with sadistic and gruesome illustrations. Very creepy but worth it.

Are you brave enough to enter the narrowing tunnel and towards the gates of hell?

The communication in Hiri is very easy compared to other parts of Sri Lanka,

The food is exceptional and very inexpensive, although I must admit after a couple of weeks, I had reached my quota of Roti, Dahl, and Curry.

Unexpectedly awarded the Lion beers for the best wipeout of the day, without injury! Well earned.

The reality of time exists only within us.

Chin-Ning Chu


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